The clock struck December today, which meant that the last day of the college football regular season coincided nicely with the first big Saturday of college hoops. Although today’s menu looked better than the actual meal tasted, there were still quite a few interesting results today.
Game of the Day. #18 Gonzaga 85, Connecticut 82. We got to see this one, and it was a very fun game to watch. Neither team had much of a lead throughout the second half, but you have to hand it to the Zags for playing two very tough road games against quality teams 3000 miles away and coming away with two wins in the process. We really feel that once Gonzaga gets Josh Heytvelt back healthy this could be their best team in the Mark Few era. The key difference is that Jeremy Pargo (23/4/5 assts) gives them a degree of athleticism and skill at the guard position that they simply haven’t had in past years – usually they had players with one or the other, but rarely both (we’re giving him a pass for that stupid-ass foul on a three that nearly cost them the game). Then you throw in the versatile games that Heytvelt, Matt Bouldin, Austin Daye and David Pendergraft gives them, and you have a tough team to stop. Traditionally, the Zags’ problem has been on the defensive end, but at least so far this season, they’re getting the job done in that area (#13 in defensive efficiency nationally and held UConn to 38% shooting). As for today’s game, Gonzaga made just enough plays down the stretch to get the victory, but we were struck for the first time in two years with UConn’s fight. AJ Price had a nice game (22/3/6 assts), but does anyone else feel that Hasheem Thabeet (6/5/3 blks in 23 foul-plagued minutes) is the most overhyped player in America?
Other Good Games. #6 Duke 79, Davidson 73. ESPNU game, so we didn’t get to see it, but it looked like it went just as expected. Close game until Stephen Curry (20/5) got called for a questionable charging foul in each half, at which point Duke rebuilt its cushion to double digits each time. Davidson once again showed that it can hang with the nation’s elite, but simply has not been able to break through and win one of these things. We expect they’ll get the upcoming game against NC State. Still, give Duke their due – a balanced attack led by Gerald Henderson’s 21/8/4 assts resulted in another quality neutral court win. #3 UNC 86, Kentucky 77. Sticking in the ACC, remember when UNC-Kentucky was a big early-season game? There were several years in a row where CBS began its college hoops coverage for the year with this game – now it’s being shown on ESPN2 of all places. We watched this game too, but it was mostly boring because you knew that UK never really had a chance to win the game, even at home. Carolina didn’t shoot particularly well (43%) or look particularly good, but we could quickly tell that UK didn’t have enough good players to win this game. Two things we noticed – Danny Green (20/6 on 8-11 shooting) is really coming on for the Heels, and Patrick Patterson (19/9) is the real deal for UK. Oh, and we’re already sick of watching Psycho T’s incredibly awkward post game. Providence 98, Boston College 89 (OT). With 14:40 remaining in the second half, Providence was leading BC 62-38. Over the next thirteen minutes, BC outscored Providence 37-8 (incl. a 17-0 run) to take a five-pt lead with just over a minute remaining. Unbelievably, PC’s Weyinmi Efejuku (21/9/4 assts) (yeah, you try saying it) hit two key threes in the last minute to send the game they’d totally blown into overtime. In the extra session, the Friars went on a 13-2 run to finally put the wild game away. Our whipping boy Tyrese Rice had 25/3/6 assts/4 stls for BC, but he did miss the game-winning shot with 5 seconds remaining in regulation.
Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. California 86, Missouri 72. This was a very solid home win for Cal to remain unbeaten, as these were the types of games they typically lost in past years. Down for much of the game, the Bears fought back to finally take a lead with eight minutes remaining in the game on the strength of guards Patrick Christopher (18/4) and Ryan Anderson (15/11) as well as big man Devon Hardin (16/12). Cal is definitely a team with NBA talent to keep an eye on this year. Oklahoma St. 96, Washington 71. Speaking of keeping an eye on someone, we just cannot figure out Washington. A relatively tight game broke open to a 20-pt deficit for UW late in the first half, and they never challenged after that. Jon Brockman (22/13) appears to be the only Husky who showed up, but where’s the defense (UW gave up 58% shooting to OSU). For the Pokes, freshman James Anderson continued his under-the-radar early season stellar play with 22 pts. The Pac-10 now leads the HS 4-2 by our count.
Upset of the Day. Harvard 62, Michigan 51. Poetic justice, anyone? God knows there’s no Tommy Amaker fans around here, but we had to laugh at the fortuitous scheduling that allowed Harvard to play a home game against Amaker’s old employer in the year immediately following his dismissal. Michigan isn’t very good, obviously, but they should never be getting whipped by Harvard down the stretch like they did tonight (Harvard scored the last 11 pts of the game). Good for Amaker – that’s a great signature win for his first year in Cambridge. Good to see the Harvard kids RTC there.
- Centenary 70, Texas Tech 66. Ugh. Sam Houston St. and Centenary already, and it’s only Dec. 1. Shouldn’t Knight hang ’em up soon?
- IUPUI 89, Massachusetts 77. Two short days after dropping 107 on Cuse in the Dome, UMass gets blitzed 57-32 in the second half v. IUPUI and loses all their mojo. IUPUI’s George Hill poured in 30.
Other Ranked Teams.
- #5 Georgetown 61, Fairfield 49. Another ho-hum win for Georgetown.
- #10 Louisville 47, Miami (OH) 44. Louisville really isn’t looking very good anymore (Tim Pollitz 22/11 for MU).
- #11 Butler 65, Ohio St. 46. OSU was outscored 45-16 in the second half – these droughts are killing the Buckeyes. Not that anyone in C-bus noticed today (thanks WVU and Mizzou).
- #13 Michigan St. 80, Jacksonville 51. Raymar Morgan with a career-high 24/7.
- #15 Indiana 64, #23 S. Illinois 51. E-Giddy with 22 and DJ White with 10/12 in a tremendous road win for IU.
- #17 Pittsburgh 78, Toledo 52. Sam Young with 17/12 in another easy win for the Panthers.
- #18 Clemson 85, South Carolina 74. KC Rivers with 24/8 with one more nail in Davey O’s coffin.
- #20 BYU 78, Portland 54. Trent Plaisted with 16/8 in another efficient win for the Cougs.
- #21 Xavier 90, Belmont 49. Wow, the margin here amazes us. Belmont shot only 27% for the game.
- #24 Villanova 84, Pennsylvania 61. Scottie Reynolds with 21 in another blowout win for a ranked team.
Other Notable Scores.
- Vanderbilt 92, Georgia Tech 79. Vandy is the second-best team in the SEC right now (7-0).
- West Virginia 70, Winthrop 53. Huggins’ guys are already #1 in defensive efficiency – they held Winthrop to 30% shooting today.
- Mississippi St. 78, Murray St. 61. Charles Rhodes with 22/5 in only 25 mins tonight.
- Arkansas 62, Oral Roberts 51. Gary Ervin with 16 off the bench for the Hawgs.
- St. Mary’s 85, Seton Hall 70. SMC is very very tough at home.
- Pacific 70, Nevada 66. Nevada (2-4) is on its way to not making the NCAAs this year at this rate.
On Tap Today(all times EST). More Big 12/Pac-10 action and little else.
- Kansas (-2.5) v. USC (FSN) 2pm – we kinda figure KU will destroy USC in this game, but it’s worth watching to find out.
- Nebraska (-2.5) v. Arizona St. (ESPNU) 2pm. a clunker in the Hardwood Series.
- Stanford (-7.5) v. Colorado (ESPNU) 4pm – this is only interesting to see how Stanford handles another road game.
- Texas A&M v. Arizona (-2) (FSN) 6pm – this could be a tremendous matchup if Zona decides to protect its home court.
- Maryland (-3.5) v. VCU 7:30pm – the battle of disappointments.
- UCLA (-11) v. Texas (FSN) 8pm – Vegas giving Texas no respect here. We’re very excited about this matchup regardless.